Target Corporation Foundation partners with Harvest Prep, Best Academy and the new Mastery school to provide new library and free food to all of its students
Photo: Laysha Ward, the CEO of Target Foundation with students in new library
On May 11, 2012, more than 600 families of students from Harvest Prep and Best Academy, located at 1300 Olson Memorial Highway in north Minneapolis, attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the brand new library and “Meals for Minds” free food distribution program donated by Target Corporation Foundation (Target).
Target donated more than 2,000 books, 20 Netbook computers and 10 iPads to the new library, and along with Heart of America Foundation provided more than 200 volunteers to totally renovate the Harvest Prep and Best Academy school library into a state-of-the-art facility. In addition, Target distributed approximately 25 pounds of free food to every family in attendance at Harvest Prep and Best Academy.
Laysha Ward, the President of Target Foundation, opened up the ribbon cutting event with words of encouragement to families and students in attendance about the importance of reading and literacy.
In 2011 Target Corporation Foundation (Target) made an incredible commitment to literacy and the students at Harvest Prep, Best Academy, and the new Mastery School which will open this August, when it selected Harvest Prep and Best Academy to be the only charter schools in the state of Minnesota to be a part of its Target PRESS Initiative, and selected Harvest Prep, Best Academy and the new Mastery Schools to participate in its Target’s “Meals for Minds” program.
PRESS is an acronym that stands for Pathways to Reading Excellence in School Sites. PRESS is a K – 3rd grade initiative that provides tutors, literacy coaches, as well as reading experts from the University of Minnesota to support students in grades K – 3rd grade that are behind in reading. In addition to this initiative Target, on two separate occasions during the 2011/2012 school year, provided all of the Harvest and Best students with free books.
In addition to the outstanding PRESS commitment, Target designated Harvest Prep, Best Academy and the new Mastery School as a part of its “Meals for Minds” program. Target helped create and currently supports a “school based pantry” program in 37 schools nationwide. Branded as “Meals for Minds,”℠ the program provides more readily accessible source of food assistance to low‐income families, but is open to all students at the selected elementary school. Sites are in the same location of the school’s campus, have set distribution schedules and offer ongoing food assistance services.
The “Meals for Minds” programs are located in elementary schools with 65% or greater free and reduced lunch participation in order to serve families with the greatest need. At Harvest Prep, Best Academy and the new Mastery School, there will be one Meals for Minds distribution each month for each and every child enrolled at any of the schools. The monthly food distribution will be after the 15th of each month in order to address food insecurity as monthly SNAP benefits are depleted for families. Each child will receive approximately 25 pounds of free food at each distribution. This equals approximately 17 meals per child. The goal is to have 25% of this food being fresh vegetables and fruits. The local food bank is responsible for delivering food at each distribution, participating in the monthly distribution, and picking up any remaining food immediately following each event. The food distribution will be a “market style” or “client choice” distribution, with volunteers helping families as they move through the market. The distribution is open to all students enrolled at the school and their families.
The first “Meals for Minds” distribution took place on May 11, 2012 in conjunction with the opening of the schools’ new library makeover. The Meals for Minds program has the full support of Harvest Prep, Best Academy and the new Mastery School founders Eric Mahmoud and Dr. Ella Mahmoud.